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[gim-ik] /ˈgɪm ɪk/
an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal.
a concealed, usually devious aspect or feature of something, as a plan or deal:
An offer that good must have a gimmick in it somewhere.
a hidden mechanical device by which a magician works a trick or a gambler controls a game of chance.
Electronics Informal. a capacitor formed by intertwining two insulated wires.
verb (used with object)
to equip or embellish with unnecessary features, especially in order to increase salability, acceptance, etc. (often followed by up):
to gimmick up a sports car with chrome and racing stripes.
verb (used without object)
to resort to gimmickry, especially habitually.
Origin of gimmick
An Americanism dating back to 1925-30; origin uncertain
Related forms
gimmicker, noun
gimmicky, adjective
ungimmicky, adjective
1. stunt, plan, ruse, ploy; angle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gimmick
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If you can't find his gimmick in half a day, I'll come out and show it to you.

    The Great Gray Plague Raymond F. Jones
  • We have to remember that the gimmick in this whole business is a golden skull.

    The Golden Skull John Blaine
  • The "gimmick," as these American subjects put it, is "hot" and the turnover is fantastic.

    High Man Jay Clarke
  • And you think me incapable of keeping your secret, ah, gimmick, I believe is the idiomatic term you used.

    Mercenary Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • That gimmick's pretty much of a spilled secret now, but on p. 270 a swap for you and Lyad it was worth it.

    Legacy James H Schmitz
British Dictionary definitions for gimmick


something designed to attract extra attention, interest, or publicity
any clever device, gadget, or stratagem, esp one used to deceive
(mainly US) a device or trick of legerdemain that enables a magician to deceive the audience
Derived Forms
gimmickry, noun
gimmicky, adjective
Word Origin
C20: originally US slang, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gimmick

1926 (in Maine & Grant's "Wise-Crack Dictionary," which defines it as "a device used for making a fair game crooked"), American English, perhaps an alteration of gimcrack, or an anagram of magic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gimmick



  1. A secret device or hidden trick that causes something to work and assures that the customer will not win; gaff: A new gimmick, infra-red contact lenses, which enabled a card player to read markings on the backs of cards (1926+)
  2. Any device; gadget (1930s+)
  3. pparatus used for preparing and injecting narcotics; works: A small red cloth bag with his spike needle and ''gimmicks'' fell out (1960s+ Narcotics)
  4. A feature in a product, plan, presentation, etc, believed to increase appeal, although it is not necessarily useful or important; grabber, hook: This promo isn't bad, but we sorely need a gimmick (1950s+)
  5. One's selfish and concealed motive; angle, percentage: This looks fine, Mr Mayor. What's your gimmick, anyhow? (1950s+)


: Get a fairly good item, then gimmick the hell out of it

[origin unknown; perhaps fr gimcrack]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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